By the Venetian lagoon there is a house so cursed not even fishermen will fish near it. Many dark legends surround the Casino degli Spiriti, or The House of Souls, from black magic to the ghost of a heartbroken painter.
Right by the water there is a decaying of a once grand palace that is haunted by its own legends. The house of Casino degli Spiriti or the House of Souls was once a very beautiful building in Fondamenta Gasparo Contarini, overlooking the famous Murano island just across the lagoon.
The house of souls is actually part of the Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo, and the house is an annex which are more commonly known for its legends of ghosts, murder and spiritism. Today, there are so many versions of the legend as to just why it is so cursed.
The Ghost of Pietro Luzzo da Feltre
One of the most famous legends of Casino degli Spiriti is that of Pietro Luzzo da Feltre, a painter who lived in the 16th century, together with famous artists like Titan. This is at least the painter most associated with the legend, although we have proof that he actually died in war, not over unrequited love as this legend would have it as.
Anyway, this was at the height of the Renaissance and Italy was a culture center. The Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo was back then known for a meeting place for Venetian philosophers, artists and learned men.
Not a lot is known about Pietro Luzzo da Feltre’s life and not many of his works are preserved to this day. We do now know a couple of curious facts about him though. For one, one of his many nicknames was Morto da Feltre, where Morto means ‘dead’ or ‘dead one’. There are a couple of reasons why this was his nickname. It could be because of his joyless temperament, the fact that he looked ghostly or his peculiar hobby of exploring crypts and burial grounds.
Pietro Luzzo da Feltre’s legacy though is his demise because of an unrequited love rather than his art. The woman was known as La Bella Cecilia and it was said she had a cherub face and was also a singer. She however was Giorgione’s lover and model, another painter during that time and rejected Pietro Luzzo da Feltre when he fell for her.
According to some variations of the legend, he simply disappeared one day. It is believed that he killed himself in the annex he lived in that would be known as Casino degli Spiriti, unable to go on.
It is said that once, his artist friends saw him through the window a few days after his disappearance, and they hurried over to talk with him. But when they entered the room they thought they saw him in, it was empty.
Strange noises were heard at night after the place was abandoned. Could it be the ghost of Luzzo? Or perhaps it was religious cults gathering to invoke demons and do magic. According to legend his ghost is still in that house, still pining for the woman he could never have.
The Murder House
Later, after the artist of the Renaissance had left and the grandieu of the place started decaying overtime, it was used for various purposes. Casino degli Spiriti was the place venetian died from the plague as the house was used as a hospital. It was also used as an anatomical theater where they did autopsies. So a lot of souls came and left in this building.
In 1929, four people were found dead in the house: a priest, two brothers and a gondolier. There was no explanation of this random gathering of people or what had happened. They were apparently all missing their heads and their right hands, but they never got the ones that did it.
In recent years, the house is still not rid of its ghosts and gruesome history. Linda Civetta lived in Belluno and managed her family’s bar. She went to Venice in 1947 to resell cigarettes on the black market which was big business after the second world war. She was never able to return home. She was killed, cut up and thrown into the lagoon in a trunk. She was found right in front of this cursed building two weeks after her murder by a local fisherman.
Apparently she was carrying large amount of money and this was the motive behind her murder. The murderer was Bartolomeo Toma, a gambler and a gondolier named Luigi Sardi.
Even to this day, the local Venetian fishermen don’t go near that place to fish.
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